What is an ECU?
An ECU is an Electronic Control Unit (a computer). These are relatively new to air suspension, but over the past 3 years have become the standard in controllers.
This is because of what they can do, and how user friendly they are.
All the solenoids (and sometimes the compressors) are controlled by the ECU. There is a display fitted to the dash which shows a digital readout of the pressure in each bag or height of each corner or both.
The user has pre-set buttons which allow the height of the vehicle to be set with a single button – normally there are three – fully down, ride and fully up, although they can be set as you wish within certain limits.
We do two different types – the ART E2 and the DD unit. If you study the site you will see that they are almost always fitted to most of the cars we do. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
One of the coolest features they have – Remote control. Using a key-fob you can control at least the three pre-sets from a distance. Imagine you get out lock the door, and drop the car to the ground as you are walking away – its always cool, and people always turn to look!
For practicality they are also able to go to ride height on ignition start – you get in turn the ignition on, and the vehicle goes to the standard ride height – saves damage if you have been playing and forget, and once again looks really cool.
ECU’s can use pressure sensors to read the pressure in each bag which is a fairly accurate indication of the height of the vehicle for most people. They also can use height sensors although these are harder to fit as the sensor fits to the suspension itself, but can gain a little accuracy. Some systems can have both.
The kit pictures above relate to the DD controller, but the most common one we supply is the ART one, which you can see fitted to the T5 van, PT Cruiser, and Mk3 Golf featured on this site.
How much do they cost?
DD Pressure only ECU system
|DD Pressure and Level sensor ECU system||
|DD Remote control||
|ART Pressure only ECU system||
|ART Pressure and Level sensor ECU system||
|ART Remote control||
So Which is best?
These controllers are really quite similar in function, and there is no simple answer. It depends upon the use and to a certain degree the display you like best.
The DD controller does have a few more minor functions, which some people may find useful, but the biggest advantage is the pressure sensor on the tank is rated up to 400 Psi, which can be important if you are running the tank to 200 Psi like so many people do these days. The remotes have 6 buttons, and can do a couple more things if you set it up that way, as can the display.
The ART controller is more user friendly. The + and – buttons are very intuitive, and almost anyone can use it with 10 seconds training. All 5 pressure sensors are rated at 150 Psi, and won’t read over 165. the computer can switch on the compressors, and even staggers them if you run two to reduce the load. It does miss a couple of functions, but to be honest is my own controller of choice at the moment.
I would say if you are running over 150 Psi in the tank go with DD, but if your girlfriend or wife drives the car definitely go for ART. Anything else is your choice. You will be happy with either.